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The Supply of and Demand for Charitable Donations to Higher Education

In: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education

  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Stephen G. Dimmock
  • Scott Weisbenner

Charitable donations are an important revenue source for many institutions of higher education. We explore how donations respond to economic and financial market shocks, accounting for both supply and demand channels through which these shocks operate. In panel data with fixed effects to control for unobservable differences across universities, we find that overall donations to higher education - and especially capital donations for university endowments or for buildings- are positively and significantly correlated with the average income and house values in the state where the university is located (supply effects). We also find that when a university suffers a negative endowment shock that is large relative to its operating budget, donations increase (demand effects). This is especially true for donations earmarked for current use. We conclude by discussing the importance of understanding how donations respond to economic shocks for effective financial risk management by colleges and universities.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Jeffrey R. Brown & Caroline M. Hoxby, 2014. "How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number brow12-2.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12859.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12859
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Meer, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 2009. "The impact of athletic performance on alumni giving: An analysis of microdata," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 287-294, June.
    2. Clotfelter, C. T., 2003. "Alumni giving to elite private colleges and universities," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 109-120, April.
    3. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success," NBER Working Papers 14341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Roberts, Russell D, 1984. "A Positive Model of Private Charity and Public Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 136-48, February.
    5. Jeffrey Brown & Stephen G. Dimmock & Jun-Koo Kang & Scott Weisbenner, 2010. "How University Endowments Respond to Financial Market Shocks: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 15861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Kingma, Bruce Robert, 1989. "An Accurate Measurement of the Crowd-Out Effect, Income Effect, and Price Effect for Charitable Contributions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1197-1207, October.
    7. Brown, Keith C. & Garlappi, Lorenzo & Tiu, Cristian, 2010. "Asset allocation and portfolio performance: Evidence from university endowment funds," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 268-294, May.
    8. Jonathan Meer & Harvey S. Rosen, 2012. "Does Generosity Beget Generosity? Alumni Giving and Undergraduate Financial Aid," NBER Working Papers 17861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Steinberg, Richard S, 1987. "Voluntary Donations and Public Expenditures in a Federal System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 24-36, March.
    10. Tobin, James, 1974. "What Is Permanent Endowment Income?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 427-32, May.
    11. Brendan M. Cunningham & Carlena K. Cochi-Ficano, 2002. "The Determinants of Donative Revenue Flows from Alumni of Higher Education: An Empirical Inquiry," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(3), pages 540-569.
    12. Zoran Ivkovic & Scott Weisbenner, 2005. "Local Does as Local Is: Information Content of the Geography of Individual Investors' Common Stock Investments," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(1), pages 267-306, 02.
    13. Gerald E. Auten & Holger Sieg & Charles T. Clotfelter, 2002. "Charitable Giving, Income, and Taxes: An Analysis of Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 371-382, March.
    14. Stephen G. Dimmock, 2012. "Background Risk and University Endowment Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 789-799, August.
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